Author: Lauren McMenemy

Trembling With Fear 1/22/2023

Hello, children of the dark. How are you doing on this fine January day? Me, I’m still on a bit of a high after seeing filmmaker Darren Aronofsky be interviewed at the British Film Institute last night. He’s made some of my favourite films – ok, maybe not favourite, but certainly films that have left a lasting impact on me – and it’s always a privilege and a pleasure to get to hear these creative leaders speak live, in the same room. 

Since I made the decision to truly prioritise my creativity and make big changes in my life, I’ve tried to make the most of these sorts of opportunities to attend events and Q&As and suchlike. Living in London is such a gift for these things, but I’m also grateful for all the virtual events that have become a staple since the beginning of the pandemic. It makes the creative arts more accessible to those outside the big centres, and that can only be a good thing.

Case in point: next month in the UK, we have the Ghost Story Festival happening in Derby, which is in the Midlands of England. But the organisers know that not everyone will be able to get there, so they’ve added a preview night with two virtual sessions happening on the day before the festival proper kicks off, as well as launching a YouTube channel featuring interviews with the speakers. Then there are all the writing groups around the world who are using Zoom and other platforms to bring writers and creatives into our phones and computer screens to share wisdom, tips and expertise. Yes, even Horror Tree tries to make opportunities and offerings more accessible – have you subscribed to our YouTube channel yet?

Nothing is perfect and no one is doing everything right, but I am heartened to see these steps towards embracing different needs within the creative world. And, from where I sit, I reckon the world of speculative fiction is leading the way in embracing diversity. In Penguin Random House’s list of 10 most anticipated books of this year sits Victor Lavalle’s forthcoming Lone Women – no way would a horror book have appeared on that list a few years ago. In our own way, Trembling With Fear welcomes submissions from all writers of the darkly speculative, no matter your age, gender, ethnicity, beliefs, abilities – as long as you adhere to our submission guidelines, of course. Please do check them before submitting to us, as we will automatically decline stories that feature graphic sex, rape, racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and misandry, or killing or abuse of kids or pets. 

But now let’s turn to this week’s menu. The Trembling main course comes courtesy of neurodiverse writer Robert Zerbe and his sticky garage door. This is followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Marc Sorondo faces an end of the world scenario,
  • Chelsey Pippin Mizzi goes to hell, and
  • Finbar Hussey writes in a diary.

If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here, and we have an insatiable appetite. As Stuart said the other week, we would like to re-open to short stories soon but we still have quite a few waiting for publication. If you really want to get your short story mojo going, we are looking for submissions to our Valentine’s special – that’s shorts up to 2500 words or drabbles of the usual 100 exactly. Our new specials editor Shalini awaits your imagination!

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

I know that I keep talking about the new hosting and design and that we’re not there yet. I promise you; we’re getting SO CLOSE! This is the big hold-up for quite a few upcoming changes and I’m hoping it shall be sorted soon.

Another change, I know that once upon a time in the past, it had been mentioned that we might be bringing iPhone and Android apps of the site into existence. We’re still exploring that idea and might have a way to feasibly do so that won’t kill our already pretty low budget. (We’ve lost a couple of Patreons lately so the budget has been shrinking. Gah!) 

For those looking to support the site, we’re always open Ko-Fi donations and always have our Patreon going.

As always, I hope you had a great weekend.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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Trembling With Fear 1/15/2023

Hello, children of the dark – and it really is dark out there, isn’t it? At least in the Northern Hemisphere (a wave and shout-out to my homeland, where it’s currently summer). It’s that time of year in London that is pure grey skies, driving rain, blasting winds and just cold, cold, cold. My Aussie bones can’t take it, so I’m a hermit once more (though less of the heater-constantly-on thanks to the energy crisis, and more wrapped up in my warmest jumpers).

Over this side of the pond, tomorrow – the third Monday of January – is known as “Blue Monday”, and is said to be the most depressing day of the year. There is a lot of debate as to the methods and origins of this “science”, with some claiming it’s just a misguided PR stunt, but whatever the origins, the idea has really taken hold in the last decade. 

If you’re feeling down because of the weather, post-Christmas finances, low motivation and the pressure to take action on new year’s resolutions, maybe the concept resonates with you. Maybe it’s also taking its toll on your creativity, and you’re struggling to write. If that resonates, I ask that you hold on. The grey will lift, and soon the light will return. Find solace and inspiration in your community of writers and readers of the darkly speculative. And, of course, reach out if you need to talk to someone. There’s a lot of shit out there, but there’s also good to be found.

Dare I say, some of that good is in this week’s TWF menu? Our Trembling main course is definitely not one for the bug-phobic (thanks, Kellee Kranendonk!). This is followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Scott Bogart takes revenge on the bad guy,
  • Robert Allen Lupton takes revenge on editors, and
  • Ron Capshaw’s type of revenge is tbc.

If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here, and we have an insatiable appetite.

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

A HUGE thank you to Kangas Kahn Publishing for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! Please, if you’ve got a Halloween story in mind, do reach out to them! They’re paying 8 cents per word for 2000-5000 word Halloween stories! Details are on the link above. 

We’re inching toward the new hosting and layout, which is taking up quite a bit of my time! (That, and my latest class for my MBA, has started up, which hasn’t helped matters.) That isn’t to say nothing is getting done that is new! I’ve added an automation for new subscribers of our newsletter to receive a welcome e-mail and wrote a script that will welcome our new Patreons as well, which I’ll be trying to record soon. (I may also add a video to our welcome letter.) 

Oh, we’ve also had a few people ask about the return of Horror Tree merch. It won’t be happening with the new layout of the website, but we ARE actively working on bringing it all back (and adding more items as well!) More to come.

For those looking to support the site, we’ve recently launched a Ko-Fi and always have our Patreon going.

As always, I hope you had a great weekend.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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Trembling With Fear 1/8/2023

Hello, children of the dark. I’ve had the strangest day, so forgive me if this week’s intro is a little… odd. You see, I was woken this morning by a crackle of static and a slow, low, barely audible voice: “Hello? Can you hear me?” As I came to consciousness, I realised there were wires all over me, and a machine on the wall told me it was recording.

It’s ok – I was just finishing up an overnight sleep study, but my word it was the strangest encounter I’ve had in a while. I’m still waiting to see if any psychic or telekinetic powers develop, but I guess at least the photo of me wired-up made a few people giggle.

After all that, I’m a bit tired – ok, I’m a bloody exhausted – so I’ll jump straight in if that’s ok with you?

Here is this week’s menu. Our Trembling main course concerns some danger in the dark depths of the deep. This is followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Kerry E.B. Black wonders if ambition is worth the cost of entry,
  • Regina Beach spins a drabble from a Welsh myth, and
  • Robyn O’Sullivan takes her final journey.

If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here, and we have an insatiable appetite.

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

The new year is upon us and we’re finalizing our plans for moving to a new host and working through our new layout. A ton of updates are on the horizon and I’m thrilled to be sharing them with you as they go live! 

For those looking to support the site, we’ve recently launched a Ko-Fi and always have our Patreon going.

As always, I hope you had a great weekend.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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Trembling With Fear 1/1/2023

Hello, children of the dark. How’s the head? Did you celebrate the turn of the year last night? Me, I’ve never been one for the big New Year’s Eve rave-on (yes, I’m a party pooper), but I do feel like a clean slate is now ready for us all to put our marks upon. May 2023, the new year, be full of opportunity for us all.

And speaking of opportunities… If you’ve ever wanted to join the Horror Tree team, now is a good chance: we’re looking for book reviewers and article writers. We’ve had a few new faces get in touch in recent weeks, but – like our appetite for drabbles – we always crave more! If you are interested in getting your hands on books, interviewing authors about their process, or just writing about writing in general, then I’m sure Stuart would love to see your name in our inbox.

But that’s not all. As has been mentioned in previous issues, as well as saying goodbye to 2022, we’ve also said goodbye to Amanda Headlee, who has been at the helm of our special editions, Unholy Trinities and Serials for the last few years. While Amanda will be greatly missed, I am super excited to introduce our new specials editor: Shalini Bethala.

I met Shalini during pandemic lockdown virtual writing sessions, and I can confirm she is awesome. But don’t take my word for it – here she is, introducing herself:

“My love for writing and storytelling begins and ends with New Orleans, the place where I grew up. It was where I fell in love with the dark, mystical and supernatural stories that are inextricable from the rich history and ethos of the city. It was also where I discovered I wanted to be a storyteller and where I began my journey into becoming one. I’ve been a writer of all sorts, but in recent years, I’ve turned my focus to poetry, essays and screenplays. While my work spans several genres, including comedy, as a reader, I’m especially drawn to pieces that have me hanging on the edge or that rip the rug right out from under me. I love a good ghost story, a good eerie, unexplainable tale and – of course – anything that will have me trembling with fear.”  

I can’t wait to see what Shalini brings to our dark table, but for now, let’s turn to this week’s menu. Our Trembling main course has Eve Morton ponder what makes humanity. This is followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Catherine Berry explores old photography,
  • Brad Kelechava goes under water, and
  • Yvonne Lang brings a little Halloween magic to the new year

If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here. Remember, we’re still CLOSED to short story submissions – full transparency, we’re scheduled well into the new year so it will be a while yet – but are always seeking drabbles of exactly 100 words. 

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Happy New Year, one and all! I hope that you’ll have an amazing one and that with the cluster of the last few years we may even have some kind of normality return to our lives. (Doubtful, but, wishful thinking, right? Gotta try for that positivity!) 

First off, as Lauren already did above, I’d like to give a warm welcome to Shalini Bethala who is going to be helping with our specials. On the Trembling With Fear front, we’ll be sitting down over the next few weeks to talk about how we can re-open our calls sooner than later for short stories. Also, we’ll be making a push on publishing the serials and Unholy Trinities that have languished in our accepted inbox and push them out into the world.

We have a lot of big things in the works this year. A new host, a new layout (not much different, but it’ll be faster and easier to customize going forward.) Also, we have a few new projects being thrown around that we plan to launch over the course of the coming year. I’m excited and hope that all of you are too! 

For those looking to support the site, we’ve recently launched a Ko-Fi and always have our Patreon going.

As always, I hope you had a great weekend.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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Trembling With Fear 12/18/2022

Hello, children of the dark. The end of the year is fast closing in, and I hope it finds you in a fine state. For those who celebrate Christmas, may your tree be bright and your homes merry next weekend. 

Next week – next Sunday, in fact, our regular Trembling With Fear day – is Christmas Day, so our humble publication will defer to the much bigger beast of the Christmas Special for the final issue of the year. Yes, final issue of the year. I know I keep saying it, but WTF 2022! Where did you go?

It’s that time of year when many reflect on where they’ve been and where they’re going, and for my part I am leaving 2022 in somewhat of a better state than I entered it. This here publication is a big reason behind that; I feel more and more like I’ve found my tribe, my community, you children of the dark. I love reading what your imaginations bring forth, and I find it really inspiring, so thank YOU. 

As for what 2023 holds for me, I have one very concrete plan: I’ll be in Derby, England, in mid-February for the UK Ghost Story Festival. I’ll run a couple of workshops – one on writing spooky drabbles, and one on giving and receiving feedback on writing – and I might even get to slip into the interviewer’s chair for some of the main sessions. It’s promising to be a HUGE event – more than 50 individual things over four days, encompassing workshops, interviews with writers (Michelle Paver! Laura Purcell! Emma Stonex! CJ Cooke! Dan Schreiber! Stephen Volk!), and theatre performances – so if you’re anywhere near the area, I’d love to see you. And if you’re on the other side of the pond, there are a  couple of virtual events happening to kick it all off, including a discussion of Asian ghosts to launch the Unquiet Spirits essay collection. Check out the official website for speaker details, and get your tickets over here.

For now, let’s turn to this week’s menu. Our Trembling main course has James Kowalczyk encounter *something strange* in the basement. This is followed by three delicious quick bites, all continuing that theme of household dread:

  • RJ Meldrum ponders the loss of a pet
  • Finbar Hussey is kept awake by a knocking, and
  • Mike Rader has a very different take on the term “nuclear family”

If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here. Remember, we’re still CLOSED to short story submissions – full transparency, we’re scheduled well into the new year so it will be a while yet – but are always seeking drabbles of exactly 100 words. 

Over to you, Stuart.

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

For those who celebrate the holiday season. Happy holidays! For those who don’t. I hope you have a wonderful season and some time off of work or school. I’m currently in between MBA classes and, at the time of writing this, chewing on my fingernails to find out what my most recent grade is. I’m also getting a surprising amount of writing in!

‘It sounds like we’ve got a few more new writers joining Horror Tree soon as well as our new specials coordinator. We’ll be doing the full slate of introductions quite soon!

As mentioned last week, we’re exploring new hosting. This will occur in January of 2023, we’re also hoping to launch the new layout (very similar to the current one with more features) also in January of 2023. Not much new to report on. More is coming!

 

Brief Updates:

  • If you’ve got any features or areas that you’d like to see Horror Tree add, please reach out!
  • We’re currently making a major push for more author interviewers! If you love to talk to authors, please reach out!

For those looking to support the site, we’ve recently launched a Ko-Fi and always have our Patreon going.

As always, I hope you had a great weekend.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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What do authors write their books on?

What do authors write their books on?

By Lauren McMenemy

 

There’s plenty of advice out there from the biggest and most successful writers in the world, but they’ve got time, experience, help and money on their side. What about the millions and millions of people out there writing every day, for pleasure, for work, for therapy, for reasons only they know and probably don’t interrogate. What do the world’s writers use to capture their words and thoughts? What do authors write their books on?

 

Of course, we turned to social media for this one. Posting a plea on three platforms – Twitter, Instagram, and Mastodon – we received a variety of responses. Naturally, there are two main camps: those who prefer the tried and tested ancient process of pen on paper, and those who need to quickly type their words into technology (computer, tablet, typewriter) before they lose their train of thought. But within those two camps are whole worlds of differences.

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Trembling With Fear 12/11/2022

Hello, children of the dark. I hope you are all doing well, and if not well, then I send strength and hope you are managing. As for me, I have returned from the land of pizza and pasta, from the place where the history comes from, and I am energised. Renewed. 

The other half and I enjoyed a whole week in Rome and I tell you what – my legs are paying for all that walking! Oof. Someone who has barely left the house since the UK lockdowns began in March 2020 should probably have eased up to doing 20,000 steps a day up and down hills. I’m lucky to walk 3,000 steps per day lately! Yikes. 

And while it was wonderful to see – and I am privileged to have been able to experience – all those ancient things and storied places, I have to admit my favourite sites were the more macabre ones. We stumbled across the skull of St Valentine in a church. We wandered around the surprising ruins of Pompeii. And, the thing that absolutely mesmerised me, we visited the crypt of the Capuchin friars. If you’ve never heard of this place, it is truly remarkable: an ossuary of sorts, the crypt is decorated with the bones of more than 4,000 friars. Some of these are full skeletons dressed and standing in pose, but most of them are used as artwork to decorate the crypt. It was truly, truly something else. Head to Atlas Obscura to see images of this place in its full glory.

Not all of us have the opportunity to experience these places, but it is important for our creativity to get out and experience new things if and when we can. I’d love to hear about the strangest place you’ve felt inspiration – let me know in the comments below?

For now, let’s turn to this week’s menu. Our Trembling main course sees Ariadne Zhou head to a forest camp that’s not quite right. This is followed by three delicious quick bites:

  • Chelsey Pippin Mizzi contemplates original sin
  • Abra Hanen contemplates the dark, and
  • Corinne Pollard contemplates revenge

If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here. Remember, we’re currently CLOSED to short story submissions, but are always seeking drabbles – that’s a complete speculative story in exactly 100 words. And our Christmas special is still – just – open for submissions, too.

Now it’s over to you, Stuart.

 

Lauren McMenemy

Editor, Trembling With Fear

We should have an announcement coming up in the next week or two as to who will be joining our team to take over Amanda Headlee’s role as our Specials Coordinator! We also have Belinda who does our weekly roundups on Horror Tree’s YouTube, dipping her toe into our book review pool, and we’re in talks with 5ish potential new writers for the site to help cover articles, book reviews, and author interviews! Hopefully, that means we’ll see an even great influx of those in the near future. 

In the new year, we’ve got a pile of changes being added. Not only are we looking into that new website theme, but we’ll also be exploring faster hosting and potentially other fun-filled technology to make things faster and easier to access everything on the site on all forms of browsers. 

 

Brief Updates:

  • If you’ve got any features or areas that you’d like to see Horror Tree add, please reach out! 
  • We’re currently making a major push for more author interviewers! If you love to talk to authors, please reach out!

For those looking to support the site, we’ve recently launched a Ko-Fi and always have our Patreon going.

As always, I hope you had a great weekend.

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

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Writing advice from famous authors

Writing advice from famous authors

By Lauren McMenemy

 

“The scariest moment is always just before you start,” says Stephen King. “After that, things can only get better.”

 

It’s true, but writing is hard. And scary. And it’s really easy to avoid it and go wash the dishes or something. 

 

But writing is also magical. And wondrous. And joyful. So we’ve gathered together some of the best writing advice from famous authors as a way to jolt every writer out there (OK, to jolt me, I’m my own problem) into action. Below we start with George Orwell’s famous rules for good writing, then some short and sharp tips from Mr King, before we deliver a whole host of different perspectives on the writing life, writing process, inspiration, and genre fiction.

 

What’s your favourite advice from famous authors? Let us know in the comments below!

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